Madeira: Vine varieties

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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The most planted variety by far is the red-skinned negramoll (often referred to as Tinta Negra or Tinta Negra Mole) which has been the principal V. vinifera variety on the island since phylloxera arrived at the end of the 19th century. It was for long denigrated, somewhat unfairly in view of its versatility. Along with the recently introduced complexa grape, it can make good madeira, but wines based on Negramoll rarely have the keeping qualities of those based on the so-called ‘noble’ varieties. Plantings of the traditional varieties sercial, verdelho, bual, malvasia, and the almost extinct Terrantez, are slowly increasing once again since their rout as a result of phylloxera. Other varieties planted are principally disease-resistant american hybrids such as Cunningham and Jacquet, although they are no longer permitted as ingredients in madeira and should be used exclusively in the production of the island’s rustic table wine. Small quantities of arnsburger and Cabernet Sauvignon are planted on the north side of the island for the production of unfortified wine. Listrão (Palomino) is planted on the nearby island of Porto Santo where they make a small quantity of their own fortified wine for the local market.